Help planning route from Boston to Vegas
March 30, 2014 8:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm leaving at 10am tomorrow from Waltham, MA and driving to Las Vegas. Stressing over the weather. I plan on taking it slow...driving maybe 8-9 hours a day and not at all after dark. I've never driven in bad weather so I'm really nervous. If I take Northern route I'll be in snow in Denver and if I take Southern route there are severe thunderstorms (and poss tornadoes?) in OK and TX by Wed. and Thurs. I'm driving alone and this is my first road trip. BTW I have a Nissan Rogue that will be packed full. Looking for advice planning route home...details appreciated! Thanks!
posted by camfys to Travel & Transportation around Boston, MA (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: All the major map services list the same route - follow major interstates because they are the best maintained and and have the most places to sit out bad weather should it arise, while you have a cup of coffee. If you are worried find a semi and follow it, those people know what they are doing and have a network of communication. Your car is much more stable than any commercial vehicle.

Don't worry, millions of people live along that route and along with many many trucks ply that route daily. I lived in the midwest for five years and even in the depth of winter or in thunderstorm season never once was the weather so bad that I couldn't drive - once or twice in my utter POS fifteen year old car when it was raining freakishly hard my wipers couldn't quite keep up so, I slowed down.

Good freaking luck trying to find a tornado, I sought them for five years, with weather radar to clue me as to likely locations, and never came remotely close.

Just follow your instincts and remember to take occasional breaks to maintain your concentration and you'll be fine.
posted by vapidave at 10:04 PM on March 30, 2014 [5 favorites]

I think you are much more likely to hit rain than snow in Denver. (I live in Denver). You might run into snow in the mountains forty minutes or so west of Denver. Really though, you will be traveling on the interstate and those roads are very well maintained. Just pull over and check the road conditions and traffic speed on your phone periodically and wait it out if anything super bad comes up. (And, it is very likely to be fine).
posted by fieldtrip at 10:19 PM on March 30, 2014 [3 favorites]

That's a really fun drive. Just get rest and travel with a clear head. Have a fun, safe trip.
posted by clango at 5:46 AM on March 31, 2014

It looks like you're unlikely to encounter any weather that'll seriously derail your plans this week, but one thing you can do that will make things easier in inclement weather (and is doable in the timeframe you've got) is to make sure your windshield wipers are in good shape and tires are properly inflated before you go. Being confident that you've done what you can to make sure you'll have good traction and clear vision on the road should help a lot.
posted by asperity at 8:43 AM on March 31, 2014

Best answer: is to make sure your windshield wipers are in good shape and tires are properly inflated before you go

When on a long trip where I am utterly dependant on my car getting me through and a tow truck may be quite a wait (and expense) I "preflight" my car every morning and do checkups at gas/potty stops.

Preflight maintenance: change the oil. New wipers if they are more than 6 months old, tires are in good condition (no more than 5 years old and lots of tread left-measure it and more than 5/32 of an inch is good-the distance between the edge and George's head on a quarter). Check all the fluids-brake/transmission/clutch/washer/steering and top off as needed. Clean the car thoroughly inside and out.

Morning routine:
1. check tire pressure with a gauge (get a good gauge, your tires are your life) and those cheap pencil style gauges are not often very accurate. When traveling long distances at high speeds like on an interstate I inflate to the maximum PSI listed on the sidewall.
2. Check the oil level
3. walk around the car and look for anything loose/hanging and/or damaged (like a rock chip in the headlight lense. If possible have someone check to make sure all your blinkers and brake lights are working (someone stands behind the car while you press the brake and turn on the blinkers or work something out to do it yourself-blinkers are easy).
4. CLEAN THE WINDOWS with a good cleaner and a clean rag (microfiber is the best). I also wipe the wipers off to make sure they are not encrusted or such.

as needed at stops:
walk around the vehicle and check for damage and low tires visibly(modern tire pressure warning systems are great, but they can fail and blowouts are no fun at all). Clean the windows (yes, I carry glass cleaner and a rag with me on trips). and If filling up and my car has a history of using oil I check that every fill up.

If your car is new and in good repair, most of these steps are not a big deal or even necessary. HOWEVER, I have driven some real beaters on long trips and never been stranded due to these measures. The big two are the glass cleaning and the tire pressure. Neglecting either can really mess up your day.

And, in general, snow storms will stop you for a day or two at worst, and this is unlikely this time of year, whereas a bad thunderstorm will only stop you for an afternoon-and are much easier to dodge. If it is freaking you out, take the southern route. Which means cutting south to I-40 and then over.

and lastly, if you haven't ever driven in the west, distances are long, LOOOOONG. So keep that in mind when planning gas stops and potty breaks. And rest stops in the west don't often have services like gas/food. Truck stops are usually best for all around stops and they have showers you can buy if you are sleeping rough, and will have the best prices for food/gas.
posted by bartonlong at 9:26 AM on March 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone!!
posted by camfys at 12:56 PM on March 31, 2014

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